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Neighbors excited for new housing plans in South St. Pete

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Posted at 6:47 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 18:47:08-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Nearly 60 new affordable housing units are in the works for south St. Pete.

The City of St. Pete put out a call for developers to bring two projects along 18th Avenue South in St. Pete.

On Monday, Habitat for Humanity Pinellas and West Pasco Counties announced it was selected to head up the projects.

Development is planned for two lots along 18th Avenue South. One complex, Pelican Place Townhomes, will be at the 21st Street intersection.

"Habitat aims to develop 44 units: nine two-bedroom units, nine four-bedroom units and 26 three-bedroom units. The units have one-car garages on the first floor. The homes would range between 1,000 and 1,300 square feet. The total development cost is roughly $13.5 million," the organization said in a statement.

Just blocks away at another 18th Street intersection will be The Grove. Habitat submitted plans for a 10 and 12 unit complex. The total development cost for the project is roughly $3.4 million.

Vice President of Government Relations Sean King said these two sites won't look like your traditionally Habitat for Humanity single family houses.

"What we've heard throughout the community is 'Why aren't you doing more density? We need more density, we need more units.'" King said. "But we've seen the great need in the community. And now we're moving into more multifamily developments throughout the community, not only in St. Pete."

The organizations has plans to build town homes in Clearwater, Largo, and in Pasco County.

While they shift to a different type of home, Habitat for Humanity Pinellas and West Pasco said their goal is to provide affordable housing with a focus on home ownership.

"We feel that's how people can build intergenerational wealth and really not only put roots down in the community, but engage in the value creation, that's going to happen. There's going to be a lot of redevelopment within the 18th Avenue corridor in South St. Pete, in Midtown," King said.

He continued, "The Tropicana site redevelopment is coming online, there's going to be a lot of value creation. If you're a homeowner, you can participate in that. If you're a renter, then what happens is typically rents increase and you were displaced out of the community that you live in."

Bringing more home owners into the neighborhood is an added bonus to Darryl Wright Sr. He lives across the street from one of the proposed developments.

"I'm hoping the people that do move in are home owners and want to be a part of this community. This community has been through a lot over the years. It went through the drug trade. This used to be like ground zero but that came to pass," said Wright.

Wright has spent about 60 years in the neighborhood. He said he's happy to see people coming in with rent low enough to afford.

"That will be a godsend. The houses are nice but this low income housing, that would be better. Like I said, a godsend," he added.

Habitat expects to offers the town homes at some of the most affordable rates on the market.

"We offer a 0% interest mortgage. So when you take that out of the equation, mortgage interest rates have climbed significantly over the past even six months. And with a 0% interest rate, it really is a game changer on affordability," he said.

Price points haven't been set just yet, but King did offer an example.

"I'll just use an example for a $215,000 loan amount 0% interest mortgage all in with taxes and insurance, you're probably looking at sub $1,000 a month payment. Try to find that in a rental you can't in anywhere and in the area. So that gives you a range and that's where we anticipate about being is in that range upon completion." he said.

Habitat for Humanity said their goal is to give back to the South St. Pete community, and hopefully fill every unit with a local.

"I think there was a unique aspect to the proposals that we committed to an exclusive marketing period to exclusively market to current residents of the South St. Petersburg CRA and city employees," King said.

Wright said he hopes with new neighbors means new businesses will follow.

"I really hope they can someone to put a grocery store there for the elderly to help them out. They need it. There's a lot of grandparent in this neighborhood. They need a grocery store, a laundromat. But no one's doing anything like that," he said.

Habitat anticipates 36 months to completely finish the developments, but hopes to have the first group of homeowners in within 15 months.